by Moira Alexander

Why your business strategies must constantly change

Aug 11, 2015
IT LeadershipIT Strategy

Change is the one true constant in business. Having defined processes in place to effectively manage change can help companies sustain success.

Strategy: Plan A or B arrows
Credit: Thinkstock

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” -Lao Tzu

In the business world, change is all around us, almost every minute of the day. It can come in the form of:

  • Stakeholder expectations
  • Human resources
  • The environment (Internal or external)
  • Management
  • Organizational structure
  • Policies and processes
  • Regulatory/legislated changes
  • Cash flow
  • Competition
  • Products or services

…and myriad other forms. Merely acknowledging these changes is not sufficient to provide for successful business outcomes. 

In today’s business environment, knowing how to successfully navigate these changes and develop appropriate and effective processes to properly manage such change is a must. It’s virtually impossible for organizations to make sound strategic decisions and completely accomplish objectives when deprived of strong change management strategies. This is especially true in the world of project, program and portfolio management, where obstacles and ambiguity are inevitable at every juncture.

Chief Change Officers?

In order to become true officers of transformation, today’s business leaders will not only need to take a closer look at the projects and how they fit within the business portfolio, they’ll need to remain nimble enough to constantly evaluate both projects and portfolio to ensure alignment with overall business objectives.

[Related: What is holacracy and why does it work for Zappos?]

In order to do so, C-suites will be in need to work closely with their Enterprise Program Management Office (EPMO) to develop mechanisms to monitor and measure the impact of internal and external changes in relation to the current portfolio. Senior executives will want to be equally instrumental in helping direct their EPMO in managing these changes in a way that allows for the right level of flexibility; shifting focus in a timely manner as needed.

Working with their EPMO to identify not only where changes are likely to occur, but exactly how they will impact the organization as a whole is key; moreover, deciphering how to properly manage the change can is also paramount.

In order to successfully mitigate risks, it will be increasingly vital for these new transformational leaders to maintain consistent open dialogue with other levels of management and their EPMO. After all, we’re talking about changing fundamentals that have the potential to materially impact the direction of their organization. At any point, what can seem like the smallest change within the internal or external environment of the organization can have the potential to not only derail a project, but impact the entire portfolio and in turn compromise critical areas of operations.

Embrace change, but put employees first

It’s important to note that, although change often is seen as a bad thing, it has the potential to be just the opposite – as long as strong business leaders deploy people, processes and technologies effectively for the purpose of improving, progressing and building a stronger competitive advantage.

Although change can be exhilarating for the business and leadership team, it’s important to recognize it can be terrifying for employees. In order to effectively address change, the leadership team and EPMO will need to carefully cultivate a positive and productive internal environment where employees have trust in the management team at all levels. Additionally, it’s imperative that employees feel and believe their contributions are not only needed, but highly valued, and that change will not negatively impact their roles within the organization. 

[Related: 10 things smart program managers do] 

Business leaders will need to not only be seen as embracing change themselves, but also foster a corporate culture at all levels that thrives and excels despite change. 

As strategy drives portfolios rather than portfolios driving strategy, tomorrow’s transformational leaders will need to motivate and encourage continuous improvement throughout continuous change in order to obtain successful and meaningful project, portfolio and business outcomes.

EPMOs and business leaders should strive to successfully identify, effectively manage, accurately measure, closely monitor and clearly communicate changes and change management strategies throughout their organizations. This will facilitate and drive business strategy in a way that positions their organizations to achieve and maintain the levels of success they envision.